AngryFrenchGuy

I am Not as Much of a Nationalist as Gilles Duceppe (or Stéphane Dion)

with 21 comments

There is a federalist credo in Québec which all but the most intransigent centralists repeat like a mantra, it goes:

“I am a nationalist, not a sovereigntist.”

That’s Stéphane Dion meant the other day when he said he was “as much of a nationalist as Gilles Duceppe”.  It’s only because Dion’s used to be the Liberal’s point man in the war against the ‘separatists’ that the statement got anybody’s attention.  If any other candidate of any other federalist party had said the same thing, no one would have spilled their Starbuck’s over it.

There is a long tradition of nationalist-federalists in Québec.  Prime Minister Jean Lesage used to say “Le Canada c’est mon pays, le Québec c’est ma patrie” (Canada is my country, Québec is my homeland) and Daniel Johnson, the official leader of the No camp used those exact same words as a slogan in the 1995 referendum campaign.

Then there are the Canadian nationalists.  The Holy Trinity of Pierre and Justin Trudeau and Jean Chrétien – the Father, Son and Sketchy Uncle of Canada – who managed to export a peculiar kind French-Canadian ‘Chosen People on a Divine Mission’ nationalism – a nationalism that has it’s roots in the missionary fervor of the first Catholic settlers of New France –  right across the federation.

Yet even them, the most centralists of federalists who truly, sincerely believe that Canada is the ‘bestest’ country in the world, never miss a chance to remind us that they are proud to be Québécois.

I’m not.

I am not proud to be Québécois.  I am not a nationalist.  I am an indépendantiste.

Saying you’re proud to be Québécois or Canadian is the exact same thing as saying your proud to be white or right handed.  How can you be proud of an absolutely random twist of genetics and fate?

I  am Québécois.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m proud of things I do.  I didn’t make Québec.  It was here before I got here and it’ll go on without me.  I have, as of yet, not contributed anything of particular importance to it’s economy, culture or history.  I admire what Serge Fiori, Leonard Cohen, Efrim Menuk, Bruny Surin and Pierre Péladeau have acheived.  Can’t say I had anything to do with it.

I also admire Bob Marley.  I feel touched by his music and recognize a little bit of myself in his art.  Does that make me proud to be Jamaican?

I feel privileged to live in a pretty cool place.  Not proud.  Privileged.

I have gratitude – not pride – gratitude for the hard fought battles of Louis-Joseph Papineau, René Lévesque and Pierre Bougault to right some wrongs and to empower the powerless. I also feel a sense of duty to protect and expand those powers.

That’s why I am indépendantiste.  It’s not about being something, it’s about doing something.   It’s a plan. It’s a project. It’s an administrative reorganization of a political structure that could truly empower people.

I became a sovereigntist myself because of Québec’s language legislation.  I understood it but I didn’t like it.  I struggled to find a way to protect and empower French in North America without a Sign Law.  I think an independent Québec is the best idea anybody’s had so far.

There are other good ideas.  Federations are great political structures, allowing to balance local and central power.  But they need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing realities.  We tried that a few times in Canada, from the radical decentralization of the PQ’s Souveraineté-Association project to the timid Lake Meech accord.

Every time the nationalists – canadian nationalists, that is – stood in the way with flags and fear.

That’s why I want an independent Québec.  Because we need to get rid of the nationalists.  All kinds.  Blue and Red.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

September 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

21 Responses

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  1. Wow. What a great column.

    Are you surprised to see me write this, AFG? ‘Cause I must admit that I was surprised, in particular, by the following passage:

    “I became a sovereigntist myself because of Québec’s language legislation. I understood it but I didn’t like it. I struggled to find a way to protect and empower French in North America without a Sign Law. I think an independent Québec is the best idea anybody’s had so far.”

    Isn’t that classic Kondaks-philosophy?

    T.K.

    September 10, 2008 at 11:05 am

  2. The first AFG blog I did not laugh at. He is getting smarter. We also.

    sergei

    September 10, 2008 at 11:19 am

  3. Hope this doesn’t seem arrogant but… quoting myself from May 26:
    “Can’t speak for others but I must say that personally as a francophone I find it quite humiliating that seemingly the only way to have any control over the linguistic and cultural evolution of our nation is through legal coercion (ie Bill 101) or fear/threats (use French with francophones or else they’ll get upset and break up Canada!).”
    https://angryfrenchguy.com/2008/05/22/ethnic-panic/

    Note however that I do prefer humiliation over oblivion if I have to choose between the two.

    Acajack

    September 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

  4. AFG,

    well said.

    I am indépendantiste also.

    I wish sovereignists, including Gilles Duceppe, would say, loud and clear, that they are not nationalists but independantists

    antonio

    September 10, 2008 at 11:55 am

  5. Great post AFG. I’ve been waiting for this post for a long time.
    I think, and I do hope, that we’re quite numerous of this separatist-non-nationalist specie.

    eltremblayo

    September 10, 2008 at 12:40 pm

  6. Mario! I know that we are two idiots here. That is why it is easier for me to speak to you but not to TK or Acajack! They are too clever! I do not understand even the meaning of their words. Answer me honestly! Who will pay me BS after Quebec independence? Because if Quebec economy is weak now what happens after separation, sorry after independence. It will more strong? I can find a job?

    Mario

    September 10, 2008 at 1:03 pm

  7. Sorry! when I put Mario I meant Antonio.

    Mario

    September 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

  8. “There are other good ideas. Federations are great political structures, allowing to balance local and central power. But they need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing realities.

    I agree with this. But I am not sure an independent Quebec would be any more flexible than Canada is today. I see it becoming a very centralized state without much power given to regions (who presumale will feel their “needs” are different). I just don’t know what an independent Quebec will do better than Canada is doing now.

    AM

    September 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

  9. AM writes:

    “I just don’t know what an independent Quebec will do better than Canada is doing now.”

    What Quebec will do better in is, most importantly, they won’t have need for language legislation.

    And I think that is precisely the message that AFG was attempting with this column (and a notion I fully subscribe to).

    T.K.

    September 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm

  10. All this so that we don’t need language legislation?

    Forgive me if I am skeptical, but how will the pull of English just disappear when Quebec separates? Will it cease to become the dominant global language? Will Quebec cease to be next 300 million English speakers? Will we still not be inextricably lnked to the North American economy?

    AM

    September 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm

  11. Well a revolt only against Canadian imperialism will fall short of the abolition of capitalism. That has been the experience of most national liberation struggles. They throw off the yoke of direct colonial rule for a yoke of neo-liberal neo-colonial economic rule. Capitalism still reigns. How much should we struggle to create smaller and smaller political entities (defined by what? ethnicity? language? culture? geography?) before targeting capitalism?

    VM

    September 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  12. AM writes:

    “All this so that we don’t need language legislation?”

    Admittedly, much of what I claim will occur when Quebec becomes independent is wishful thinking on my part.

    But I do sincerely believe that with the boundaries of an independent nation and control over all taxes, all laws, and all treaties (Jacques Parizeau’s definition of an independent nation) that Quebec will have all the assurance it needs to protect its language and culture.

    And within this framework, I am convinced that the Quebec elite will be the first ones to call for the use of and encouragement of English. You will see more and more fully and functionally bilingual Quebecois de souche in an independent Quebec than a Quebec within Canada that feels it needs a Bill 101.

    Just imagine: not just one AngryFrenchGuy blog put out by one fully bilingual Quebecois — as is the case now — but a hundred. That’s what awaits us in an independent Quebec!

    I think I’ll slit my wrists now…

    T.K.

    September 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm

  13. <>
    Hold on there. Are you equating language with culture by any chance? Because that’s exactly what a nationalist would do.

    VM

    September 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm

  14. T.K.: So does this mean that if you were somehow to emerge from your hideout at the O.K. Corral in Arizona (with “Wile E. Coyote” on the mailbox!) and return to Quebec that you would vote “Oui” in an independence referendum?

    Acajack

    September 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

  15. An independent quebec coming into being is a moot point because it will never happen. This province is simply too poor and too lazy, yes the people in this province are lazy, to ever be independent. Quebec would find it very hard economically to survive without money from Canada to keep the lights on!
    AFG,
    You know this is true. The industrious provinces support the poor provinces. If Quebec separated unilaterally how long could the bills be paid? It is the fly in the ointment for separatists and has nothing to do with language. Parizeau was right, Lobsters in a pot!!

    Chuck

    September 10, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  16. Acajack:

    I wouldn’t have to leave Arizona to vote in either a general election or a referendum in Quebec because I could use an absentee ballot.

    For example, the federal department in charge of voting already contacted me about 2 months ago in anticipation of the coming federal general election and I soon expect to receive my absentee ballot for that.

    And, yes, I will vote “yes” in any coming sovereignty referendum.

    T.K.

    September 10, 2008 at 8:35 pm

  17. We quebecoises like inhabitants of the Safari park. People pay to the Park Administration to watch us, feed us, and preserve our culture, our special language and us. But we are dreaming to escape. Can we? Yes we can! But we need first to abandon of our exclusivity (distinct nation, “we are different”, Bill 101 etc). We need to forget about PQ, BQ and BS (another powerful political party) we need to challenge the common future! Or to stay in the Safari park. With BQ,PQ,BS,QLF and the other socialistic programs.

    happy new quebecois

    September 10, 2008 at 9:04 pm

  18. “An independent quebec coming into being is a moot point because it will never happen. This province is simply too poor and too lazy, yes the people in this province are lazy, to ever be independent. Quebec would find it very hard economically to survive without money from Canada to keep the lights on!”

    I think they would find it more difficult but not impossible. Of course, they would have to curtail a lot of their existing programs and cut spending radically to make this happen. It appears that they are not ready to make this sacrifice for their dream as recent polls indicate.

    I doubt we will see Quebec separate any time soon.

    BTW- I agree with the post by AGF…the only way Quebec can dispense with language laws and the protectionism is to form an independent country…Of course this is no guarantee that the language would be protected in the NA regime with the obvious one sided anglo numbers.

    I doubt this will happen any time soon and has Acajack has indicated…the language laws will be around for some time to come.

    Quite unfortunate, in that it is costly and really not necessary , at least in english canada.

    I see Harper is gaining strength in Quebec and right in Montreal itself…the election campaign is young at this time.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 12:38 am

  19. Félicitation pour ton blog, je suis tombé dessus grâce à la chronique de cyberpresse et je me suis abonné au flux RSS.

    Ton opinion est très rafraichissante sur les relations quebeco-canadienne. Je n’avais en effet jamais considérer le nationalisme comme étant inhérent mais lorsqu’on y pense c’est logique, si je me souviens bien un récent sondage démontrait que 98% de la population du Québec se disait Québécois, aussi incongru cela puisse paraitre, cela rajoute à ton point.

    Au plaisir de te relire, je compte suivre attentivement ton blog.

    dlp

    September 12, 2008 at 9:04 am

  20. Test

    angryfrenchguy

    September 12, 2008 at 9:55 am

  21. Just leave.

    Benoit

    July 20, 2011 at 2:13 am


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